The town of Klungkung is the capital of Klungkung regency, which includes the islands surrounding Nusa Lembongan. Most tourists don’t visit Klungkung, but it has an important history.
During the Hindu, Majapahit invasion of Bali in 1343, the new rulers set up a court at Gelgel, which is south of Klungkung. The prime minister of the Majapahit empire, Gajah Mada, appointed a Dewa Aging, which means ‘Great God’ to rule over the entire island. The Dewa Agung was for almost 200 years based in Gelgel.
When the Majapahit empire in Java, fell in 1515, to the advancing Muslim, Mataram empire, Bali received an influx of Javanese artisans and members of the royal court and during that era, Gelgel became a center for the arts.
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The court was moved to Klungkung at the end of the 17th century. Bali developed separate kingdoms soon after and the strength off Klungkung was over.
The final event that marked Klungkung’s history was a sad one. The Dutch started to occupy Bali in the early 20th century, and went about forcing each kingdom, to submit to their rule. The Dewa Agung of Klungkung refused, meaning the Dutch set themselves up, outside the royal palace to attack. The Dewa Agung and 200 of his courtiers marched down the street and commited a ‘puputan‘ (ritual group suicide) stabbing each other with ceremonial kris, rather than submit to the foreign power. Some of the royal family who were left were exiled in Lombok.